Review: Mingary Castle, Kilchoan, Lochaber - Scotland on Sunday Travel

Visit this restored castle on the Ardnamurchan peninsula (the most westerly point of mainland UK) for a foodie break

Mingary Castle, Kilchoan, Lochaber. The 13th-century castle was restored to its former glory in 2016 and in 2021 it reopened as a modern restaurant with rooms. Pic: Contributed
Mingary Castle, Kilchoan, Lochaber. The 13th-century castle was restored to its former glory in 2016 and in 2021 it reopened as a modern restaurant with rooms. Pic: Contributed

Scotland isn’t short of a castle or two, with many being synonymous with places such as Edinburgh’s grand dame. But being able to stay in one comes with its own charm, and it’s great to see when something that was once run down has been brought back to life.

One of the relatively new kids on the block is Mingary Castle on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. The 13th-century castle was restored to its former glory in 2016 and in 2021 it reopened as a modern restaurant with rooms.

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Running the atmospheric castle are two seasoned hospitality professionals, chef Colin Nicholson and his partner Jessica Thompson. Both have worked at a range of luxury hotels and restaurants (including Inverlochy Castle) at home and abroad, so I was looking forward to a late summer visit. Mingary Castle is about a four-hour drive from Glasgow, where I live, so it’s a definite escape from the city road trip, which includes a crossing on the Corran Ferry. While you’re still on mainland Scotland on the other side, there is an island feel to the scenery and winding, often single track roads. The first thing you’ll notice on arrival at the castle are the uninterrupted views out to Mull and beyond. The castle is built into the cliff edge, so its battlements cast an imposing view as you drive down towards the car park.

The hand-carved four poster bed in one of the castle's four suites. Pic: Contributed
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Budget or boutique

This is a real boutique stay, with only four suites available. These come in around £360 per night for bed and breakfast. Exclusive hire is available from £2,500 per night.

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Room service

The four suites have all been individually designed, and named after Scottish clans that have been linked to the castle. The centrepieces in each of the suites are the carved four poster beds that have handcrafted Scottish wool blankets, goose feather pillows and duvets.

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The drawing room at Mingary Castle, Pic: Contributed

We stayed in the dog-friendly MacDonald Suite, which is like a self-contained apartment within the hotel walls, rather than the main building. It has a living and dining area, with an exposed stone fireplace with wood burning stove as well as a kitchen. Heading up the hand carved oak staircase, which was made using oak from the local estate, there’s a good sized bedroom with four poster bed and en suite with roll top bath and rain shower. A cosy dog bed and water bowl are provided.

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The interiors of the castle’s bedrooms and communal areas are a seamless mix of the old and modern, with an eye for the little details and luxuries. The jewel coloured velvet sofas in the drawing room (with its well stocked whisky cabinet and bar that features local gins as well as bigger brands) sit against a backdrop of light oak panelled walls and cupboards - it’s authentic without being overbearing. The same can be said of the rooms; fabrics are tactile and in-keeping with the historic setting without falling into the tartan or twee territory. The overall feel is comfortable, while being sympathetic to the castle’s location and history.

Wining and dining

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Within the two AA Rosette restaurant, Chef patron Colin Nicholson serves a six-course tasting menu, which changes daily. These menus showcase the best produce that the west coast of Scotland has to offer and often contain fruit, vegetables and herbs that are sourced from the local community garden. Fish is sourced from Tobermory Fish Co and Iain Stewart’s in Fort William, and Highland-based Great Glen Charcuterie is used for cured meats. They work with a local farmer who provides the pork for their homemade sausages for breakfast.

The dining room at Mingary Castle, which has two AA Rosettes. Pic: Contributed
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Worth getting out of bed for

The Ardnamurchan Distillery is about a 40-minute drive away, and there are three tours daily from Monday to Friday. Guests can head out with Otter Adventures, who specialise in bespoke outdoor experiences. The local guides can tailor trips to explore the area. The Tobermory ferry goes from Kilchoan, which is a short drive from the Castle.

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Little extras

The dog bed and water bowl were a nice touch, plus there’s West Highland Tea Company tea and Paper Cup Coffee in the kitchen. Jessica and Colin also brought us a packed breakfast for our early departure, and packed lunches can be ordered for those spending a whole day away from the castle. Robes and slippers were also available, as well as full sized The Highland Soap Company shampoo, conditioner, body wash and bubble bath.

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Within the two AA Rosette restaurant, chef patron Colin Nicholson serves a six-course tasting menu, which changes daily. These menus showcase the best produce that the west coast of Scotland has to offer. Pic: Contributed

Guestbook comments

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The castle has majestic views of the Atlantic Ocean from its original battlements with 360-degree views of the peninsula, four beautifully-designed suites and an intimate dining room. With its dramatic exterior and windswept location, Mingary offers a truly one-of-a-kind luxurious experience within a fortress steeped in Scottish history.

Mingary Castle, Kilchoan, Lochaber, PH36 4LH, (01972 614380, https://mingarycastle.co.uk)

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